Saturday, November 18, 2017

28mm Abandoned Gas Station

This model is based on a number of an abandoned gas station.  I think it might have been a Texaco station originally, but not sure.  The original structure was all white with a dull almost patina green trim.

Photo of actual building

I started out by estimating some dimensions on the photos and then sketching out a roughly scale plan of the building and lot.  Then adapted the footprint of the lot to mate with my modular terrain. 

The model is constructed from styrene plastic sheet, using .06 inch thick for the base (concrete pad and sidewalks), and .08 inch for the walls. Evergreen and Plastruct strips and shapes were used for the detailing.  The plastic was solvent-welded together, using a disposable syringe as an applicator.

Here is the day by day progress so far:

Day 1: Scale drawing and layout of the concrete pad and
sidewalk around the building.
 
Day 2: Start of wall construction.  Only had a about 25
 minutes to work on it, so not much progress. 
 
 
Day3: Completion of the outer walls.
 
 
Day 4:  Added the roof. 

The completed building measures 12.75"x 6"x 5.5", and will mate to a base made of extruded polystyrene insulation foam, measuring 12"x24".  I'll add some detail and debris tomorrow, and hopefully paint it through next week.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Britannia (Grubby Tanks) 20mm Vietnam Figs Painted

Just a brief post to show some pics of the Britannia 20mm Vietnam figs from a couple of posts back with paint.  All but two of the wounded VC figs are finished.  I'm debating reworking the poses to make them more useful in my games.  Anyway, here are the figs, with quick paint jobs.

US arty crew.
 
 Medic and M79 gunner (front and back)
 


US casualties.
 
VC with rifles.
 
VC with SMGs.

Wounded VC.
 
VC casualties.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Federation Carriers and More

Here are a few pics of some rides for my Federation fighters and a few vessels to escort the CVs. 

The Old Federation CVA
This an old TFG casting from around 1985, don't know if the current
ADB one is identical or not.



Federation CVS
From ADB, this uses a similar, but different saucer from the CAs that I have, and the
secondary haul has shuttle bay doors at the front and back of the secondary hull



NCL
An  ADB casting.



FFs
Also from ADB. I think both he NCL and FF would have benefitted
aesthetically from have the engines mounted on pylons similar to the Tug.

Scout and Larson Class Destroyer
The Scout (left), is from Lou Zocchi, the Larson Class destroyer from
FASA (right), fits in nicely with the TFG and ADB models.

And a shot of the group


Eventually, I intend to get decals on these models, but probably not until after Christmas.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Federation Fighters for Star Fleet Battles

I completed three squadrons of fighters for use in Star Fleet Battles games.  The models were produced by GZG, and I've painted them for use as Federation F-14s, F-18s and A-10s.  I painted up 12 fighters for each squadron, which should permit me to tailor them as needed for the various CV complements, giving me options for early and later fighter types.

Here are some pix:

F-14s:

 

F-4s:


A-10s:


And on their handy-dandy transport tray:


The tray is made from two pieces of .08 inch styrene sheet with two pieces of magnetic rubber sheet attached.  The tray will hold 24 fighters mounted on 1/4 inch washers.  Six of these will fit into the storage boxes that I am using for my SFB miniatures.

The fighter bases are 1/4 inch steel flat washers glued to 15mm plastic bases with a 1 inch piece of brass wire mounted in the plastic.  A hole is drilled in the underside of the fighter, and it is glued in place with a drop of super glue.

Friday, October 27, 2017

First Order From Grubby Tanks

A couple of weekends back, I placed my first order with Grubby Tanks for some Britannia 20mm Vietnam figs to round out my units.  My other Britannia figs had been purchased some years ago, prior to Grubby Tanks acquiring the Britannia line. 

The package arrived 10 days (including the weekend) after ordering, with everything in good order and a couple of extras thrown in.  All things considered, service was exceptional, and I will definitely order again.

Mostly, I picked up casualty markers, and some crew figures and odds and ends to fill out some squads, which gives me a platoon each of US, PAVN and VC.  The figures are in the typical Britannia style (which I love), and since there doesn't seem to be a lot of pics of these out there, they are pictured below with their item numbers/descriptions:


US - NAM20  Five Man Arty Crew
 

US - NAM07 Private Standing Firing M79 Grenade Launcher
(figure shown from both sides)
 

US - NAM10 Medic Advancing with M16
 
 
US - Two figures carrying wounded comrade

US - NAM19  3*x Dead Figures
(Website states 2x, but you get 3 figs)

VCG05 VC Advancing Firing Various Sub machine guns
 
VCG04  VC Advancing with rifles

VCG17  3 Wounded VC

VCG18  3 Dead VC
 
 
 
VIL01  Water Buffalo      and     VIL02 Pot Bellied Pigs
 
 
I'll post pics of them painted as soon as I can.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Reflecting on the Relationship Between the Internet and the Hobbyshop

I think I first connected to the internet (at home) around 1997-98, and found that it was a terrific aid to my hobby, opening a wealth of information and yielding access to endless material resources that I was previously unaware of, or that were otherwise inaccessible.  The internet was wonderful, possibly the single most important component of the hobby.
Twenty years later, I've come to realize that one of the worst things to happen to "my hobby" was the internet.  Access to other gamers through the web has replaced much of the "in person" contact that I and those that I used to game with had with each other.  It has also changed the face of the market place, such that the local hobby shop is little more useful to me, than a women's cosmetics store.  And yet, I still dearly embrace the web.

In considering some recent discussions with other gamers, which inspired my recent  "Big Battle Skirmishes" post on The Wargames Website, I offer the following thoughts, and wonder about the experiences of others.

One view shared with me in my recent game related conversations, was the opinion that packaged skirmish games featuring 28mm figs have come to overshadow classic big battle games, and smaller scales.  While I disagreed at least somewhat with the skirmish side of the discussion (addressed on TWW), I find that there is some truth in how these games have impacted my relationship with hobby shops. 
 
In the 1980s, 1990s, and even into the early 2000s, I would frequent a number of area hobby shops in north eastern and central Ohio.  In years past, I could get monsters, starships, tanks, ships, soldiers, and airplane miniatures/models in 1/3788, 1/2400, 1/700, 1/300, 1/285, 1/100, 15mm, 1/72, 20mm, and 28mm scales.  I could buy figs for at least 24 periods/genres that I played.  Currently, at those same shops, I can get a very limited number of figs for two of those 24 interests.  Additionally, I could get multiple independent rules for most of those periods through those shops, as well as a variety of board wargames and role-playing games, none of which are available today.

As time went on, the range of miniatures products narrowed, and around 15 years ago, the products almost completely ceased to be offered.  They were slowly replaced in the store by a narrow range of complete game systems, offering everything that was needed for the game from a single company in high quality, full color packaging. 

It wasn't until after these conversations over the last couple of months that I realized that even the most common 15mm entry into the packaged games, Flames of War, had largely been dropped, and generally replaced with a 28mm counterpart from Warlord games.

Now, I recognize the simplicity for the store manager to order a complete product line from one source, and the appeal to the new game customer to get the entire product line from a single source, as opposed to matching imprecisely scaled miniatures from different sources, with rules, paints, guides, TO&Es, etc all from multiple independent sources.

The effect on me has been that over the last twenty years, I have gone from spending 95 percent of my hobby dollars at the hobby shop, to around 3 percent today.   Twenty years ago, when I found that I had some free time, I could go tot he shop, often with a friend, buy some figs, and work on them that afternoon or evening.  Today, I have to order them, wait 10 days to 13 weeks, and hope that the stars again align, such that I have opportunity to work on them, before they get misplaced, or the inspiration disperses into the ether.

Curiously, since the hobby shops "abandoned" us, roughly 60 percent of the guys that I used to game with have left the hobby.  Most of them were guys that had gamed with, had gamed for at least 20 years, at the time that this started to manifest.  Even though we never played much at any of the shops (most didn't offer in store gaming at the time), going to the shop and buying figs was often still a social component of the hobby. As that social component went away, seemingly, so did they.

I do occasionally go to the local shops, to buy some paint, or the odd item, and always hoping to find that much needed miniature, but with little success.  And while at the shop,  I do find a wealth of games.  Games that somehow fail to capture my interest, along with a generation of new, younger gamers that I, unfortunately, just fail to connect with.  They see me, the old man, browsing the games, but not buying, and draw their own conclusions.  I see them, "the kids", playing the newest 40K, Warlord's flavor of the day, or Star Wars X-Wing, often with what appears to be dispassionately bare tables with unpainted figs, and realize that we each participate in two different hobbies that, confusingly, look somewhat similar.

I guess that I should be happy that the hobby shops (at least some of them) have found a way to survive in the shadow of the internet, but I regret that in their mutual effort to instantaneously gratify me, neither has done so with the success that the hobby shop once did.

At times like this moment, I lament what was, and fail to appreciate what is.  I suspect that 20 years from present, I will do as I am doing now. Probably always remembering the past as better than it was at the time.  Still, despite all that is available today, I can't help but feel that my "golden age of the hobby" rests somewhere in the past.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The War Begins: Initial deployments in Our General War from Star Fleet Battles

We started our General War several weeks ago, by declaring our deployments that were within sensor range of known bases and whatnot.  For our purposes, all bases and planets have special sensors that can range two hexes on the strategic map (fairly close to the Federation and Empire game map).  Thus any neutral zone/border battle-stations can monitor ship movement on the other side of the neutral zones.  This isn't a rule from any SFB game, this was inspired by portrayal of sensors/stations in TOS and movies, and seemed a rational approach to sensors.  Scouts have the same ability, while most other ships can sense one hex out.

Prior to the game start, we were free to deploy our inventory of ships in any manner that we like, not being constrained by any published rules in the Star Fleet universe.  Thus, fleets consist of whatever we deem necessary from a roster of ships dictated by the original fleet composition outlined in F&E.  We also agreed to use the ship construction schedule from F&E, with only minor changes and additions.

After exploring a couple of possibilities for turn and movement mechanisms, we decided that our strategic turn would span one month, and that starship movement was limited to 1 strategic hex per turn. Thus there would be 12 strategic turns each year.

The war traditionally starts with the Lyrans attacking the Kzinti in the year y168, and we agreed to start the game (and presumably, the war) in January of the year.  I had suggested that we actually start the game in maybe November of y167, and have a couple of turns of movement leading up to the permitted start of the war.  This would allow observation of border activities prior to the war start, such that any buildup along the neutral zone wouldn't be completely undetected.

My thinking was that a complete surprise attack could, but shouldn't be allowed to happen (given sensor ranges), and this would avoid one player putting an entire fleet in one hex and invading, while the other player had a peacetime deployment.  Given our strategic movement rules, this would give the opposing player two turns of reactionary movement, before having to fight the first battle, i.e., the attacker would be sensed moving attack fleets into his own border hexes, then sensed entering the neutral zone (first turn of reactionary movement), and then sense moving into the allied hex for the attack (second turn of reactionary movement).  But, my opponent wanted to start in January of y168, and I agreed to do that. 

As a result, the Lyran initial deployment was made, expecting to invade on the third (March, y168) strategic turn.  Pregame deployment involved small, 3-6 ship groups assigned to each border battle-station, and a series of invasion fleet components spaced one hex back from the border and located with hope of being positioned to react to any sort of Kzinti invasion, should the Lyrans be pre-empted.

As it turned out, this was a (more or less) good plan, as the Kzinti began an invasion on the first strategic movment. I'll get a little more into that in a moment.

As we had done away with almost everything else from F&E, prior to game start, we had established that the war had to start between the Lyran and Kzinti empires.  After junking the turn structure and other restrictions from F&E, we realized that we needed to come up with a different mechanism to control the introduction of the other empires into the war, hopefully with some similarity to the actual progression outlined in F&E.

I ended up coming up with a cross reference chart, displaying the "defense condition" or "DefCon" of each empire with respect to every other empire.  There are five conditions, and as an empire's DefCon climbs, it is permitted to take greater offensive action ranging from neutral zone violations to invasion of opposition space.  These conditions are affected by the actions of other empires.  For example, the game starts with the Lyran and Kzinti at DefCon "5" with each other, meaning each can invade the other at will.  Once the Lyrans invade Kzinti space, the Hydrans (a Kzinti ally) increase their DefCon from a "2" at game start, by two points, to a four, which permits the Hydrans (on the next strategic turn) to enter the neutral zone, occupy any neutral planets, and attack Lyran ships in the neutral zone.  Once combat occurs between the Lyans and Hydrans, both raise their defcon to 5, and they are free to invade each other.  It is functionally less confusing than the description sounds (well, a little anyway).

Okay, back to strategic turns, movement, and the start of the war.

In the initial deployment, the Kzinti placed a handful of ships in policing positions along the border, and four large battlegroups in the two southern hexes of their border with the Lyrans, roughly two thirds of the their entire roster. While this wasn't a total surprise, the Lyrans were not ideally positioned for this, and it dictated that the Lyran invasion plan would be... adjusted, while they moved some fleet resources around to counter any funny business on the part of the Kzinti.

On the first turn of strategic movement, two Kzinti battle groups moved into a southern hex of the neutral zone, while Lyrans forces move to counter.  On the second strategic turn, the two forces invaded Lyran space, and were confronted with two Lyran fleets in opposition.  Additionally, another Kzinti battlegroup entered the neutral zone down south, near the split between Lyran and Klingon space.

The neutral zone is indicated by the gray area, with the Lyran (yellow symbols)
to the left, the Kzinti (white markers) to the right, and a corner of Klingon
space and battlestations (grey) bottom right.


The result is two separate battles in the same hex on turn two of our game.  Initiative had been taken by the Kzinti, catching the Lyrans somewhat out of position, given their own attack plans.  Additionally it modified the Defcon of the Klingons, such that the Klingons were free to move into the neutral zone against the Kzinti, or initiate an expeditionary force into Lyran space.  However, since Kzinti space hadn't been violated, the Hydrans are not free to enter the game, not being allowed to commit an offensive act until either their space of their allies space is violated.

Reports of the those two turn one battles will be coming soon.